I chose to read this book

The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar
First—and importantly—for a book about psychology, this is gorgeously written. And by gorgeous, I don’t mean lush and over the top; I mean, wonderfully, effortlessly readable—with a conversational tone, but a darn smart conversational tone.
When I reached the end of the book and read the Acknowledgments, I discovered what may be the secret of Iyengar’s wonderful style: she says that her son would ask her what story she had written each day, and she would tell him about the writing she had done that day. She says that this process helped her make the stories more engaging.
(I’m compelled to suggest that all writers of nonfiction convey their narratives to children. The result here is remarkable.)
To describe this book’s contents is to make it sound like a dull reporting of research results. It is so much more. While Iyengar indeed relates the results of various studies that investigated people’s responses to situations in which they were offered some type of choice (or denied choices), she also weaves a narrative around those studies.
Unlike some popular nonfiction books that meander all over the place, The Art of Choosing actually has a narrative thread that holds it together in a cogent way. This is hugely satisfying.
I’m all about having options available, but Iyengar writes that sometimes having a lot of options actually has been shown to result in our making poorer choices. Interesting! Iyengar describes what’s behind that whole phenomenon, and it’s pretty fascinating.
Also: the fact that having lots of options can cause us to feel less happy than if our options were fewer, because we know that we must discard some desirable options because we cannot have it all.
There are some other guidelines here, such as: “We should, therefore, focus first on the dimensions that are easiest to choose from, whether because they offer fewer options or because we already know what we want, and let these choices guide us through the more difficult dimensions.” (p. 213) It’s refreshing to hear that it’s OK to start with the easy stuff and work our way up to the tougher parts.
For anyone who enjoys reading Malcolm Gladwell or the Freakonomics guys, reading this book will be sheer delight. She’s taken it up a notch.

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